Secular Sunday #50 – It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like…

Welcome to this week’s Secular Sunday.

In this issue:

  • News
  • Upcoming Events
  • ‘Tis the Season
  • Bloggage


  • On Thursday the Irish Senate  passed a Bill enabling secular bodies to nominate people who can legally solemnize marriages. Currently only the State or a religious body can do this.  The Bill could be a significant step forward for secularism in Ireland, but it has three important flaws that must be amended if it is to serve its intended purpose. Read more
  • We’ve uploaded a number of videos from our recent series of talks. Those marked (cc) have subtitles. The others should be subtitled soon.
    Why we need a secular Irish Constitution (cc), Parliament (cc), Government (cc), health care system and education system.
    How Islamic blasphemy laws persecute Christians, Muslims and atheists
  • We have added Irish subtitles to one of our videos:  You have rights, your beliefs do not. Go raibh míle maith agat to Eoin Ó Murchú for the translation. The video also has subtitles in English and French. If you are multi-lingual and want to help translate our videos or documents into other languages, or if you want to help create English-language subtitles for our videos, email
  • The AAI is running an Atheist Census. It only takes a minute to fill in, and provides them with some useful demographic information. Unfortunately, the site is inaccessible at the moment due to a Denial of Service attack, but it is expected to be back shortly.

Upcoming Events

  • Thursday 13 December, venue TBD, Dublin
    Dublin Atheists in the Pub end-of-year dinner. If you’re interested in having Christmas (or Saturnalia, Festivus or Hitchmas) dinner with some other atheists this Thursday, send a mail to Stephen Duggan who’s organising this event.
  • Sunday 16 December, 12:00, Quay Co-op Meeting room, Cork (map)
    Festive Winter Potluck Lunch organised by the Cork Humanists. Bring some food to share. Facebook event page
  • Monday 17 December, 8:30 pm, McSwiggans Bar and Restaurant, Woodquay, Galway (map)
    Galway Skeptics in the Pub – “The Terrifying World of the Pre-Apocalypse” Facebook event page
  • Wednesday 19 December, 8:00 pm, Absolute Hotel, Sir Harry’s Mall, Limerick (map)
    The Mid-west Humanists will be meeting. As well as old and new attendees (new people always welcome) getting to talk about life as an atheist or humanist in a society with a religious-biased culture, they are continuing their plan to meet TDs in the region, on the Constitution, starting when the Blasphemy article arises in the Convention, and considering their views on the need for legislation on abortion.

‘Tis the Season

It’s that time of year again, and love it or hate it, Christmas is everywhere. Atheists vary wildly in their attitudes to Christmas, with some forsaking festivities altogether, others celebrating it wholeheartedly and still others eschewing it for Solstice, Saturnalia, Festivus or latterly Hitchmas. Here’s some of the latest news and views on the season.

  • The Iona Institute has reported that a Nativity scene was banned in Brussels to avoid offence. Unfortunately, this is yet another in a long series of  “Winterval myths”. Facts Are Sacred reports on Iona’s clumsy salvo in the war on the war on Christmas.
  • Who knew Waterford would turn out to be a world centre for aggressive secularism? It’s true. For the last week, that fine city has been hosting one of these notorious “Winterval” jamborees that we’re all supposed to be so annoyed about. As I understand it, anybody who mentions Christmas or the baby Jesus is to be burned – not crucified, obviously – publicly before Reginald’s Tower.In the Irish Times, Donald Clarke pokes fun at those who argue that Christmas is under threat.
  • Because American culture has been dominated for so long by Christianity and Christian traditions, Christmas is celebrated widely even by non-Christians. Indeed, it’s getting to the point where Christmas is becoming less Christian in nature every year. Nevertheless, many non-Christians continue to perceive the day as fundamentally Christian and so don’t want to celebrate it.The atheist guide asks whether atheists should reject Christmas
  • I’m not a Christian, and, to me, Christmas is no more about Christ than Thursday is about Thor. Christmas is about mince pies, hot alcoholic drinks, blinking lights, sentimental films, TV specials, time off work, songs, presents and family. And I love it.Adventures of A Middle-Aged Boy on Christmas. [Disclosure: the author of that piece and the editor of this one are the same person.]
  • One of the few perks (the only?) to the season is mid-winter festivities.  I actually have a theory that the endurance mid-winter holidays owes itself to the psychological benefit of celebrating life at a time when nature sleeps. Kairan Nierde on why he celebrates Winter Solstice.

Expect more seasonal links in the coming weeks.


  • ‘That is not acceptable to me’ is a phrase that cuts to the heart of the issue of assisted dying, because it places the moral authority for the decision firmly where it should be: within the personal conscience of the person who has to face the consequences.Michael Nugent on the case of Marie Fleming who is fighting for the right to die with dignity.
  • Marie Fleming is alive today because she was promised a way out when she needed it. Our state will prosecute him for this. We’ll tell him that he is a murderer because he gave his partner half a decade of life. Do you think that is reasonable or ethical? I don’t.Aoife O’Riordan on the same case, asking the pertinent question “Whose are you?”
  • You come to the conclusion that all those other skeptics must be able to manipulate the laws of time and space to get as much research/blogging/podcasting and day job done at the same time. You know the ones I mean, and all you do is both envy and quietly curse them. 21 Signs You’re Jaded as a Skeptic from Skeptic Ireland
  • When I was a kid there were nine planets in our solar system. As far as I was aware, there had always been nine planets, and there would always be nine planets.Ickle Tayto mourns the ‘demotion’ of Pluto

That’s it for this week. Till next time, take care, and Merry Whatever.

Derek Walsh
Editor, Secular Sunday
Atheist Ireland

Secular Sunday